Are Work Friends, Really Friends?

So, I get pimped on the daily by PR firms to share their stuff with you guys and I rarely do! But, every once in a while a PR firm gets that I only read the headlines and sends me a good one! Like the one above!

So, this is the juice from the study

“Only 15% of people believe they have a ‘real’ friend at work.” 

Okay, the full breakdown was actually this:

  • 41% are just Coworkers. We work together. We get along. But we never hang.
  • 22% are Strangers. They work in the same place I do, but I have no idea who they are.
  • 20% are Only At Work Friends. We sit at lunch together, we talk about our families, but after work, we have separate lives.
  • 15% are Real Friends. These are my people. We work together, but we also vacation together, go for drinks, play on the same softball team, etc.
  • 2% are Enemies. I spend most of my waking hours searching or ways to ruin their lives.

The Gallup friend research from two decades ago showed us that one critical component of having an engaging work-life is if you have a “Best Friend” at work. In hindsight, I’m guessing Gallup was probably talking about this ‘real friend’ category. Someone you actually have a relationship with outside of work, someone you look forward to seeing when you go to work, etc.

For me, this really brings up the entire concept of Friendship. I’m a middle-aged dude. I’ve got a wife and kids and a dog. Middle-aged dudes and friendships are weird. I’ve got people I would consider super close friends that I’ll go weeks without communicating to. Some of my closest friends I only see a few times a year in person. So, when you ask me if I have a ‘real friend’ at work I need some defining traits about what that really looks like.

For me a ‘real friend’ probably has one or more of these characteristics:

– I’m willing to share personal stuff with them and know they won’t break my confidence.

– They’ll come and help me move to a new house/apartment/etc. Let’s face it that’s a real friend!

– We spend time together outside of work on stuff not associated with work because we enjoy being around each other.

– The friendship is two-way, meaning, we both think about and do stuff that is important to each other.

– The friendship would not go away if you stop working with each other.

That last one is the real defining characteristic of a real friend vs. a friend at work, right? We have so many people that we actually enjoy working with and we would introduce them as ‘friends’ but if we stopped working with them each day, we would probably just become Facebook friends and maybe never see them again!

So, I’ll ask you to think about all those people you work with right now and determine do you have a real friend at work? The study says 85% of us don’t! What do you say?


4 thoughts on “Are Work Friends, Really Friends?

  1. I am retired now. I had more friends at work as a bachelor. As a married middle aged man I had a few work friends. In my later years near retirement I didn’t have any friends. As a retired person though I have regained friends but mostly thru Facebook.

  2. I don’t have what I would consider a real friend at work. Not even close. I have people I chat with, but if I don’t make an effort to go see them at their desks, we don’t see each other. None of them come to my desk.

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